Reflections on undergraduate teaching

Edge, Jenny (2019)

CITATION: Edge, Jenny. 2019. Reflections on undergraduate teaching. South African Medical Journal, 109(3):136, doi:10.7196/SAMJ.2019.v109i3.13865.

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Introduction: After 18 years of largely being out of undergraduate teaching of medical students, I am once again immersed. It is the same as it was, but it is also very different. In trying to make sense of this difference, I reflect on what I have experienced since returning to the clinical learning environment. I trained in a large impersonal teaching hospital in London in the 1980s. All consultants were treated like gods. Professors were above them. Matrons were just below them and, working down the chain, medical students were to be seen but rarely heard, spoke only when spoken to, and were used for tasks on the wards that the student nurses felt were beneath them. The ward rounds were staged, dramatic and to be feared. As students, we were expected to be smart and presentable – I was chastised for wearing trousers. I arrived in South Africa (SA) in 1994 and joined Stellenbosch University (SU)’s surgical department as a registrar. I found the medical students to be polite and slightly old fashioned compared with their European counterparts. Then I moved to private practice and for the last 18 years have had minimal involvement with undergraduates. Now I am fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to return to a teaching position and find myself once again engaging with medical students in the wards. So, what has changed?

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